Next week will be a plenary week in the European Parliament. Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”) will gather virtually and in person in Brussels. Several interesting votes and debates are scheduled to take place.
On Tuesday, the Parliament will debate and vote on the Recovery and Resilience Facility (“RFF”), the main pillar of the Next Generation EU recovery fund. The RFF will unlock EUR 672.5 billion in grants and loans for Member States to mitigate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Parliament and the Council of the EU reached a political deal on the RFF in December 2020 after intense negotiations on, among other things, the rule-of-law conditionality for the disbursement of funds. Member States are currently drafting formal plans (“national recovery and resilience plans”) on how to make use of these funds to finance their economic recovery. These plans should be consistent with the country-specific economic-reform recommendations as adopted by the Council within the European Semester. At least 40% of the amount of these plans should contribute to climate and biodiversity mainstreaming and all funding should adhere to the “do no significant harm” principle. In addition, 20% should be directed towards the digital transition. The tabled draft is available here.
On Wednesday, MEPs will have a debate with European Commission President Von der Leyen on the state of play of the EU’s vaccination strategy. The MEPs are expected to call for a united EU approach to vaccination and are likely to raise concerns regarding the delays in vaccine deliveries, contracts, and the recently imposed export restrictions of COVID-19 vaccines. On January 30, 2021, the European Commission launched an export authorization and notification scheme related to certain vaccines and their active substances. Member State authorities where the COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured can refuse export licenses if the “volume of export”, “poses a threat” to the “execution” of “any of the [EU’s advanced purchasing agreement] with vaccines manufacturers.” In an earlier draft that was circulated on January 29, 2021, it was stated that vaccines supplied to Northern Ireland would be treated “as exports,” invoking Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol between the EU and UK. Hypothetically, this could have resulted in a de facto hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. While quickly reversed, this caused a political row between Ireland, the UK and the EU. On February 2, 2021, Commission President Von Der Leyen accepted “full responsibility” for the misstep in the European Parliament and several MEPs expressed satisfaction. Covington published a blogpost on the export authorization scheme here.
Also on Wednesday, MEPs will have final votes on two initiatives under the Capital Markets Recovery Package. The votes will formalize an agreement reached with the Council in December 2020. A targeted adjustment of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (“MiFID II”) would, for example, remove unnecessary administrative burdens between professional clients and eligible counterparties. MEPs will also adopt amendments to the Prospectus Regulation that would introduce a short-form EU Recovery prospectus with simplified information about the company and its securities. This would enable companies to raise capital more easily and support their recovery. The draft adjustments to MiFID II are available here and the draft amendments to the Prospectus Regulation are available here.
For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.